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Cross-Sun Moon Lake swim draws record number of participants
Central News Agency
2009-09-20 03:17 PM
Taipei, Sept.20 (CNA) A record number of people from home and abroad took part in the annual mass swim across the scenic Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan Sunday, with long lines of colorful swim caps dotting the clear lake.

Premier Wu Den-yih, who initiated the event in 1983 during his tenure as Nantou County magistrate, kick-started this year's swim with a brief speech, wishing every participant good health and happiness.

Wu also conveyed President Ma Ying-jeou's best wishes for a safe and smooth event. The health-conscious president has taken part in the swim three times in the past.

After firing the start gun to get the swimmers going, Wu left the site and went on an inspection of certain reconstruction projects in the mountainous central county that were launched after the massive flooding and landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot swamped the area early last month.

Now in its 27th year, the cross-Sun Moon Lake swim drew 25,888 local and foreign participants this year, a new record in the event's history, organizers said.

Among the swimmers, 296 were physically disabled and 1,545 were from abroad, including 1,200 from China alone.

The swim started at Chaowu Wharf and ended at Ita Thao Wharf, covering a distance of about 3,300 meters.

To avoid overcrowding of the swimming lanes, five time slots were allocated, and in each slot the participants were divided into several groups.

The physically challenged swimmers were allowed to set off first, and then half an hour later, the first group of other swimmers were allowed to follow up.

On average, it takes about 90 minutes to two hours to complete the course, but more skillful swimmers can finish in 40-60 minutes, organizers said.

The Sun Moon Lake swim, which began as a domestic event with some 500 participants, has grown into an international activity that has earned the recognition of the International Olympic Committee.

The foreign participants this year came from the United States, South Africa, Britain, Japan, Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands, China and other countries.

(By Sofia Wu)

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